- Article published:
- September 28, 2008, 0:00 BST
- Gregor Brown in Varese, Italy
By Gregor Brown in Varese, Italy Italian Paolo Bettini will retire after he races for his third...
By Gregor Brown in Varese, Italy
Italian Paolo Bettini will retire after he races for his third World Championship title on Sunday. The 34 year-old will end a 12-year career that includes wins at Milano-Sanremo, the Tour de France and the Olympics.
"In these last months for the last four years I have thought a lot and there has been a lot going on up until this last week and the World Championships my race. I decided to close my career with serenity. Sunday will be the last time I attach a race number on my back and it will be the number one," Bettini said Saturday evening in Varese.
Bettini had a fall out with his current team Quick Step earlier this month over contract negotiations. He considered racing another year but did not find a team that would meet his needs.
"I want to say thanks to everyone. Giancarlo Ferretti was the first directeur that believed in me, the sponsors Mapei and Quick Step."
Bettini, from La California, Livorno, started his career with MG-Technogym in 1997. He rose to fame in 2000 with Team Mapei-Quickstep with his win in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and a stage win in the Tour de France. He gained another win in Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2002 on his way to winning his first of three World Cup titles. His palmarès also include 2003 Milano-Sanremo, Clásica San Sebastián, the 2005 and 2006 Giro di Lombardia and two Italian Championships.
He will vie for a history-making third straight win in the World Championships road race in his last race on Sunday. "To win tomorrow will mean that I would write a story in cycling."